My colleagues and I like coffee a lot and spend a good deal of time consulting with faculty who teach large classes. Thus, we developed the caffeine-o-meter to demystify the process of improving a large course. Part of it is on my site and the entire thing is on our department website. In all seriousness, it was important to us to provide faculty a continuum of options with fairly accurate portrayals of what each option would “cost.” It is very easy, in my opinion, to push interventions that not only overwhelm, but alienate faculty from a process that should involve iteration and continual improvement. The best improvements generally start small and grow as the validity of improvements is proved and entry cost is reduced.

And a final note is needed to thank all of those we’ve linked to and referenced. Your willingness to share you work and resources is what makes me so proud to be a part of this profession.

Caffeine-o-meter Legend

[expand title=”Latte-level:” trigclass=”arrowright”]Hidden in a latte are 1-2 ounces of intense and bitter espresso, but that bite is neutralized by a good helping of beautiful steamed whole milk. A latte is like a good lightweight improvement or evidence-based teaching method.[/expand]


[expand title=”Macchiato-level:” trigclass=”arrowright”]Macchiato means “mark” or “stained” and involves toning down a stiff shot of espresso with a small “mark” of milk. A macchiato is like a medium-sized improvement to a large course. It will take a little effort, but won’t keep you up for nights on end to implement.[/expand]


[expand title=”Double Espresso-level:” trigclass=”arrowright”]There’s no getting around the fact that two straight shots of espresso will be bitter and might result in a jittery, sleepless night. A double shot is like a highly efficacious educational improvement that might require a few late nights.[/expand]


Image attributes – Full image is original, Latte (, Espresso (, Macchiato (

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